Sunday, December 20, 2009

Inspiration sneaking in

The iron man triathlon. Swimming, biking, and running a marathon all in one day, in less than 17 hours. An awesome accomplishment for any athlete brave and committed enough to accept the challenge, train for the event, and get out there and do it on raceday. It's not something I have ever considered or had much experience with until a few weeks ago.
An acquaintance introduced me to a group called Insulindependence, which is geared toward encouraging and supporting people with diabetes to explore, exercise, and have adventures. The folks at the Ironman were with the Triabetes part of the organization, a group of athletes with diabetes who do triathalons. So I went down to AZ in November to help out. What an amazing experience.
Activities started with the premiere of a documentary (link to trailer) that followed Triabetes athletes training for and competing in the 2008 Wisconsin Ironman. Between that, the artsy short film Extension (link to video), and the kids with diabetes who spoke about their experiences, it was a very heart warming event.
But watching the athletes on raceday was downright incredible. Starting with the swim just after sunrise in the bitter cold, followed by at least 4 hours of cycling (often much more), then running a marathon which ended as it got dark and cold again. What a triumph for the athletes to keep going and finish the event! And beyond just keeping forward movement, the athletes on the Triabetes team all had to monitor their blood sugar, food consumption, and give themselves insulin. The athletes had been mentoring triabuddies (children with diabetes) who were in town for the event with their families to cheer on their heroes.
Watching them exercise for up to 17 hours made me decide to step up my running a bit and stretch from the 1/2 marathons I do at least once a year and try a full marathon. So in 2010 I will move to the 26.2 mile club. The Insulindependence organization's logo has 3 words: inspire, educate, explore. Well, they definitely succeeded in inspiring and educating me when I spent a weekend with the amazing people who are part of the organization.

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